Sony RX1 sample pictures and video

Gorgeous as you might expect from a $2,800 full-frame camera. Perhaps exposure could have been set more appropriately but you can see some blown-out details on one of the fixture photos. In any case, these samples just reinforce interest in a potental RX10 that would include an APS-C sensor and be priced neatly between the RX1 and RX100.

How the iPad mini stacks up

The iPad mini appears to be imminent, buttressing Apple’s tablet franchise from lowball, razor blade-focused models such as the Kindle Fire and Google Nexus 7. One way the company can save face in light of its earlier comments rebuking smaller tablets is by going a bit larger. Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 7.7, for example, has been well-received, and I’ve had a good experience with the screen size of the Motorola Xyboard 8.2.

Eddie Cue’s comments that came to light regarding the Apple-Samsung trial regarding the challenging Web experience on such tablets is spot on. Hopefully, Apple can address this with a high-resolution display. Obviously, a new smaller iPad would use the new Lightning connector. And judging from the pictures published by CNET, it appears that Apple may continue with the wider aspect ratio introduced on the iPhone 5. That’s a bit disappointing in some ways as the 4:3 aspect ratio helped the iPad stand out and was superior for photos, magazines and documents.

Sorry, Woz, but things haven’t changed at Apple

Dan Graziano at Boy Genius Report:

[Apple’s] co-founder went on to point out that once upon a time Apple released software on competing platforms, such as its release of iTunes on Windows. Something has recently changed, however: As Wozniak points out, iTunes isn’t available on Android.

In fact, very little has changed, at least regarding app support for competing operating systems. iTunes has been one of the few exceptions to Apple developing software for Windows or any other non-Apple platform; Steve Jobs famously described the port as akin to “giving a glass of ice water to someone in Hell.” Who can really say what beverages apps such as those in the iWork and iLife suites would have represented to the damned? It’s a moot question as Apple never ported any of them and likely never will. iTunes was ported primarily as an interface between the iPod and the PC. Windows didn’t really need another music management program.

There is now less need to create a hedge against Internet Explorer

As to iTunes for Android, it’s important to distinguish between desktop iTunes — which handles the purchasing, management, device transfer and playback of content — and iOS’ iTunes, which is just a store with content playback being managed through other apps. It wouldn’t make any sense to offer desktop iTunes for Android (although perhaps one day a cloud-based solution will support that operating system). And Apple brings little to the table by offering the mobile content store manifestation of iTunes to Android. There are many competitors, including the de facto Google Play and Amazon digital content storefronts, and songs purchased with iTunes can be played on Android devices, with device transfer managed through other apps such as DoubleTwist. What has waned is support for non-Apple devices via iTunes, which was a key feature for the software before Apple launched the iPod.

Safari was another app that Apple had brought to Windows, but hasn’t updated to the latest version. There is now less need to create a hedge against Internet Explorer with the ascent of Webkit-based Chrome on Windows and iOS has provided a fertile enough base for Safari to ensure developer support. The other notable Apple app for Windows is FileMaker, which is managed out of an Apple subsidiary. It’s been a successful product, but I’ve always thought that Apple kept it in-house to ensure that the Mac had a viable database client app (since Microsoft never created a Mac version of Access (or Visual FoxPro for that matter)) and to keep tabs on what life was like for a commercial Windows developer.

Pono! Here we go again.

Bobby Owinsky:

it really does sound that much better (it should, but there are caveats), there is a group of people that will buy yet another version of the records that they may have purchased several times already.

Unfortunately, it’s the same group that could not sustain many other attempts to do market higer-, ranging from SACD to iTunes Plus. Unless there’s some kind of game-changing pricing on the Pono service — and that seems unlikely given the focus on a premium experience — Pono likely won’t move the needle more than this five-year old effort.

MSN shapeshifts again

This is something of a return to the roots of MSN, which began life as a Windows-optimized online service (the eWorld of Windows if you will). It is Microsoft’s Madonna, reinventing itself every few years.

Google passes Microsoft in market valuation

It’s milestones such as these that are causing Redmond to rethink their business, but Microsoft still has a defensive mentality as evidenced with how they are approaching tablets by grafting a touch UI onto the tablet-unfriendly desktop environment. What are the new businesses Microsoft is trying to pioneer that have more than niche potential?

Free MVNO FreedomPop launches

Another plan with a paltry data allotment but good enough to visit that quick Web page just isn’t working right on your mobile phone. Question is, for how long will these WiMAX networks that many of these 4G plans are riding on be available? They’re certainly not going to be improving.

Nokia’s renewed design impact

How can you tell the Lumia 920 has made a big impression even before launch? Even though the HTC 8x looks quite different (and slimmer) than the new Nokia flagship, people accuse HTC of copying Nokia. This is particularly interesting since colors were a relatively small part of the 920’s proposition, the 8x has a slimmer appearance, and the lower-end 8s has an even more differentiated two-tome “dipped” design (that I prefer to the 8x’s). A senior HTC executive described the coincidence as “unfortunate.” The anti-Apple crowd has also accused Apple of copying Nokia with the new iPod nano even though it’s easy to make the case that that design is a hybrid of the rolled aluminum sides that Apple has been using (as opposed to the polycarbonate on Nokia’s 800, 900 and 920) on the nano for years and the front face of the iPod touch/iPhone.

Apple’s map woes go beyond one app

In an epiphany regarding the  problems with Apple’s iOS 6 Maps app, David Pogue notes that “Apple has written a beautiful, well-designed app — and fed it questionable data.” That’s a problem, of course. But it’s not the worst problem for Apple. The real issue is that, as long as Apple’s maps are deemed untrustworthy, iOS developers are going to have a much harder time justifying integration with that data. After all, as compelling an app as a general maps app may be and as appealing a feature as turn-by-turn directions are, these can be replicated or substituted.

The ultimate reason Apple wanted to do its own maps was to be able to control  a robust location-based facility for tis app developers. These services are such an important ecosystem lynchpin that Google’s refulsal to adopt Nokia’s location-based offerings was a dealbreaker that scuttled any possibility of Nokia adopting Android and which resulted in Nokia powering parts of the Microsoft mapping solution.

This is why allegations of Apple putting its own self-interests before those of its customers do not ring true. The appearance of Apple forsaking its users to spurn Google is no more than an accident of timing; no such accusations would be raised if Apple had decided to launch the iPhone forsaking Google just as it did Flash or, for that matter, microUSB, MicroSD cards, NFC or physical keyboards. In all these cases, Apple made decisions that had at least short-term disadvantages for users, but which also had benefits, some of which took time to materialize.

These notions throw out everything we know about Apple’s historical attention to detail and concern with the user experience. Apple knows that when the customer experience suffers, it suffers — clearly in the short-term but, if not resolved as quickly as possible — in the long-term as well.

Update: Tim Cook has posted a letter to customers that affirms Apple’s dedication to its customers and pointing them to alternatives in the interim.

Scrollbars through the years

It seems that 1989 was the pinnacle of scrollbar design.

via Daring Fireball